Illinois universities nearly double startups

Illinois universities are cranking out a lot more startups.

There were 285 companies started last year by students, faculty or staff at Illinois schools last year, up from about 150 in each of the previous two years, according to a report by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. It’s an eye-popping figure. And it’s not clear how much the data reflect an explosion of startup output from universities and how much comes from better reporting.

But the surge in startups comes as schools such as University of Chicago and Northwestern University have made millions available to fund them and set up incubator programs on campus to launch them. Entrepreneurship now tops finance as the top area of concentration among MBA students at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where more students are arriving on campus looking to start their own companies.

Only 12 percent of the companies are using technology developed at the universities, however. Most often, they’re doing their own things. While the overall number of startups from the state’s schools has tripled in the five years that ISTC has been tracking them, the number of tech-transfer companies has risen 70 percent.

Funding raised by university-related startups between 2012 and 2016 climbed to $630 million, up from $345 million raised between 2011 and 2015, the report said. Part of the increase was fueled by biotech companies, which require more funding, such as Aptinyx, a drug startup launched by Northwestern researcher Joe Moskal, who previously sold a company for $560 million. Aptinyx raised $65 million last year. Exicure, a startup founded by Northwestern professor Chad Mirkin, raised $42 million.

Illinois universities nearly double startups

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